OVERVIEW: Mauritania is among the world’s poorest countries and also has a significant corruption problem. Located in the Maghreb region on Africa’s western coast, it is an Islamist country with three distinct people groups: Fulani, White Moor and Black Moor. Slavery still exists within tribal groups, with black Christians commonly subservient to Arabs. There are churches in Mauritania, but they are relatively new and need leadership development and training. In 2009, an American missionary was martyred in Mauritania, and many mission agencies subsequently pulled their workers from the country. Some Christian workers, however, are starting to return. Mauritania has been staunchly Islamic for more than 1,000 years, and the training needs among indigenous leaders as well as security risks for both native Christians and foreign missionaries remain obstacles to reaching Muslims with the gospel.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Mauritania is nearly 100 percent Sunni Muslim.
PERSECUTOR: Families, tribes, communities and the government persecute those who leave Islam in Mauritania.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN MAURITANIA: Fewer than 150 believers are known to live in the country, and only foreigners can worship openly. All indigenous Christians converted from Islam, which is illegal. Jobs are difficult to obtain in the poor economy, especially for Christians. Believers have been arrested in the past.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: It is extremely difficult for Christians to access Bibles, which must be hand-carried into the country at great risk. No Bibles are printed in the country, and the importation of Bibles is restricted.
VOM WORK: VOM supplies audio Bibles, provides training for Christians and supports the underground church.